Patrol Squadron Thirty (VP-30), the “Pro’s Nest,” is the U.S. Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS). VP-30’s mission is to provide P-3C, P-8A and MQ-4C specific training to pilots, Naval Flight Officers, and enlisted aircrew prior to reporting to the Fleet. More than 650 staff personnel train over 800 officer and enlisted personnel annually, utilizing four P-3C and 13 P-8A aircraft. Foreign military personnel from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Chile, Norway, Japan and the Republic of Korea have all received specific aircrew and maintenance training on P-3C or P-8A operations and systems at VP-30.
VP-30 was commissioned in June 1960 at NAS Jacksonville, to train flight crews for P-5 Marlin and P-2 Neptune aircraft. In June 1963, VP-30 Detachment Alfa was formed at Patuxent River, MD, to begin training in the newly introduced P-3 Orion. Growth of VP-30 Detachment Alfa soon became significant enough that the squadron homeport was moved from NAS Jacksonville to NAS Patuxent in 1966. Flight operations continued at NAS Jacksonville until P-2 aircraft were phased out of service in December 1968. In 1970, VP-30 assumed the training of P-3 maintenance personnel with the Fleet Readiness Aviation Maintenance Program (FRAMP). From March to August 1975, VP-30 returned to its present homeport of NAS Jacksonville. In August 1991, the command was designated a major shore command as the Maritime Patrol Community Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS).
VP-30 not only ensures the Fleet receives safe and competent replacement Naval Aviators, Naval Flight Officers, and aircrew, but the “Pro’s Nest” also provides post-FRS training to the Fleet as well. In 1998, VP-30 formed the P-3 Weapons Tactics Unit (WTU) to provide fleet-wide training on topics including advanced tactics, weapon system employment, and in an effort to improve survivability during overland missions, established counter threat training. As a result, full operational integration of this platform was achieved during operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, where Aircraft Improvement Program (AIP)-equipped P-3’s fired missiles in combat for the first time since Vietnam. In 2002, VP-30 graduated the first VQ Naval Flight Officers after assuming the duties as EP-3E Sensor System Improvement Program model manager. In 2003, the squadron instituted the Fleet Instructor Training Course, and the NATOPS Department integrated the Naval Portable Flight Planning System into the P-3 fleet for training and evaluation.
With the consolidation of VP-30 and VP-31 into a single-site FRS in 1993, VP-30 is now the largest squadron in the Navy. There are currently 12 active duty VP Fleet squadrons homeported in Jacksonville, FL, and Whidbey Island, WA, one special project squadron and one Unmanned Patrol Squadron, VUP-19 homeported in Jacksonville, and one Fleet Air Reconnaissance squadron homeported in Whidbey Island. In addition, a Squadron Augment Unit was established at VP-30 to aid in the responsibilities of supporting the Reserve Component Units as part of Active Reserve Integration. All of these operational squadrons are supported by the dedicated men and women of the “Pro’s Nest.”
VP-30’s awards include seven Navy Meritorious Unit Commendations, including three for the training and introduction of P-3s for the Norwegian Navy, for P-3C Update II training of the Japanese Navy and Royal Netherlands Navy, for the consolidation of all P-3 training into a single-site FRS, and its most recent for transitioning the entire Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force from the P-3C Orion to the P-8A Poseidon from June 2016 to December 2020. VP-30 also received the United States Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation with Operational Distinguishing Device for participation in the 1985-1986 Winter Law Enforcement Operation, the 1971, 1983, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2019 and 2020 CNO Safety Award, and the 1995, 1999, 2000, and 2001 CINCLANTFLT Golden Anchor Award for retention. VP-30 was honored to receive the 2008 Golden Wrench Award, as well as, the 2010 DEFY Fulcrum Shield award and 2010 Retention Excellence award. In December 2021, VP-30 surpassed 58 years and over 571,189 flight hours without a Class-A mishap. VP-30 has received the Cmdr. T.G. Ellyson Award for aviator production excellence many times in its history, most recently in 2018 and 2020, and is presented to the Navy's most effective fleet replacement squadron.
The future of VP-30 and the Maritime Patrol community is the P-8A Poseidon and the MQ-4C Triton. The P-8A is the newest long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft in the U.S. Navy’s arsenal. It possesses an advanced mission system for maximum interoperability in battle space. Capable of broad-area, maritime, and littoral operations, the P-8A has influenced how the U.S. Navy's maritime patrol and reconnaissance forces train, operate, and deploy since its first operational deployment in 2013. The U.S. Navy received its first P-8 Poseidon from Boeing in March of 2012 and has since received over 100 of the 128 aircraft purchased to replace the P-3C Orion.
The MQ-4C Triton is a new broad area maritime surveillance unmanned aircraft system (UAS) unveiled by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Navy in 2018. The Triton is intended to complement the P-8A Poseidon by providing real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions over vast ocean and coastal regions, as well as, continuous maritime surveillance. The U.S. Navy currently has two MQ-4C aircraft in their arsenal with more coming in the near future.
VP-30 is the Navy's largest aviation squadron and the only site conducting maritime patrol fleet replacement training. Since its establishment, VP-30 has epitomized professionalism in Naval Aviation. This ideal has been the command's trademark, largely due to a rigorous process used to screen ground and flight instructors with vast Fleet operational experience. They also undergo an extensive instructor-under-training syllabus prior to assignment as instructors. VP-30 ensures the Fleet receives safe and competent replacement pilots, Naval Flight Officers, aircrewmen and maintenance technicians who are ready to do the job upon reporting to Fleet squadrons.
For more information, go to VP-30.